In today’s economy, technical and vocational education is crucial for the development and progress of nations. Ekurhuleni West College (EWC) in South Africa has been taking significant steps towards preparing their students with the skills and expertise needed to succeed in the workforce. As the only institution in the country to provide aircraft maintenance, EWC is a testament to the significance of investing in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) to enhance economic growth and innovation.
Recently, the EWC graduation ceremony was graced by Minister Blade Nzimande, who commemorated several milestones. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Year of the Artisan declaration in 2013, and the 20th anniversary of the merger of 152 South African public TVET colleges into 50 colleges in 2003. The event was also coincidental with Africa Day.
EWC’s Success Story
EWC’s success is attributed to its dedication to address national challenges through expanded technical and vocational training. Recognizing the country’s need for at least 60% of school leavers to pursue artisanal training to meet the demand for scarce skills, South Africa launched the Decade of the Artisan campaign in 2014. With the ambitious goal of producing 30,000 qualified artisans annually by 2030, the country has already made commendable progress, currently averaging 20,000 qualified artisans annually.
In addition to their academic offerings, EWC has established over 100 partnership agreements with public and private organizations and international institutions to provide work-based learning and work-integrated learning opportunities for students. These partnerships enable them to gain practical experience and contribute to the national workforce.
EWC also promotes entrepreneurship through the establishment of 26 entrepreneurship hubs in TVET colleges. The goal is to involve all colleges in entrepreneurship training within the next three years, equipping students with the skills and confidence to create their opportunities.
EWC’s Achievements and Recognition
EWC’s accomplishments have been recognized by the CISCO 2023 Top Performing TVET Colleges Awards, where the college received the Outstanding Performance Award for being “The Best College in the CISCO Network.” EWC is also finalizing a partnership with Unisa to enhance collaboration on issues such as articulation, student training, and entrepreneurship skills development.
This partnership, combined with a Memorandum of Understanding with Bluegrass Community and Technical College in the USA, demonstrates that TVET colleges are vital contributors to a nation’s development.
South Africa’s Investment in TVET Education
South Africa’s commitment to the growth and evolution of TVET education is evident in the significant investments made in its institutions, including the establishment of 26 Centres of Specialisation in 2017 and an additional eight centres in subsequent years. As a result, 33 trade test centres have been established across the country, allowing more artisans to be trade-tested and qualified.
EWC’s achievements serve as a model for the future of technical and vocational education in South Africa. As the country continues investing and innovating in this critical sector, the potential for growth and prosperity, both individually and as a nation, is infinite.